Female vocals are becoming an upward trend in heavy metal after years of being pushed aside. I’m not talking about power/symphonic metal bands for which female vocals have always been an integral part of their art. I’m mostly referring to the classic/heavy/epic metal scene in general. Don’t get me wrong, DORO has always been around, and we got to see bands like CRYSTAL VIPER spawn every now and then, but other than that, heavy metal female-fronted bands haven’t enjoyed much attention as it’s currently happening with SMOULDER, TANITH or IRON GRIFFIN.
CONCILIUM is a female-fronted quintet from Boston that’s rising to join the [growing] list of bands I mentioned earlier. In their effort to do so, they recently released their first EP, “No Sanctuary”, which consists of 4 tracks of epic doom metal in the veins of CANDLEMASS and WELL OF SOULS. That said, they sound darker compared to their forefathers.
We’re dealing with a rather lengthy EP, with a total running time that exceeds 30 minutes despite being only 3 songs long. There’s also an acoustic instrumental piece shipped with the EP, but it feels more like a bridge/prelude of some sort than a fully-fledged song to me.
There’s a feeling of epicness and despair throughout the album that starts with the S/T opener, “No Sanctuary”, which sets the pace. The main concept the band’s after with this one are heavy, galloping guitar riffs, sorrowful melodies and pounding drums, while the acoustic outro serves as a smooth transition to the second track, “Halocline”. “Halocline” is a 10-minute tune in which the band spends nearly 5 minutes building up the main theme solely relying on vocals, acoustic guitars, and bass; needless to say there’s a lot of ambience going on. Wasn’t blown away by it at the beginning, but it turned out to be a rather interesting piece to listen to. The closing track, “Red Sun, Red Moon”, is closer to the traditional way of doing things as it’s SABBATH-esque guitar riffs and groove dominates the song. No big surprises here either other than it’s a song done well.
It seems a considerable amount of effort has gone into the musical themes and song structures in general, which is important when dealing with 10-minute songs. I was hooked to each song from start to finish and at no time felt the urge to hit “skip”; so kudos to the band for the songwriting skills.
Paris Thibault‘s deep voice is probably what made this recording stand out for me. Vocal melodies are straightforward and at times sound a bit rough, but are overall fitting to the music. It feels they could be a bit more refined, but as I said, they end up working pretty well with the rest of the band. The warmth in Paris’ voice resonates with the low-tuned guitars, and her overall performance in combination with the organic production adds a mysterious and – at times – haunting tone to the final result.
“No Sanctuary” EP is not perfect, and despite being just an introduction to the band’s work, it’s a rather interesting and promising one. I’d definitely like to see what they can do with a full-length album. Doomsters out there should keep a close eye on them.